Picture of How to locate pinhole cameras
The method for locating pinhole cameras is the same as the method for locating field spiders. All you need is a source of light like a flashlight and decent eyesight. It also helpful to have a toilet paper tube.
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Step 1: Get a tube

Picture of Get a tube
Find a tube that's good for looking through. A cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper or paper towels is best.

Step 2: Get a flashlight

Picture of Get a flashlight
All you need is a flashlight or something that you can use to focus a beam of light in a dark room. Attaching a couple of directional LEDs to the outside of the cardboard tube can work also if you don't have a flashlight.

Step 3: Look through it.

With one hand, hold up the toilet paper tube to your eye. With your other hand, hold up the flashlight at about eye level and point it away from you. With one eye, look through the tube and scan the room. If there are any small points of light bouncing back, inspect it further. It might be a camera.

Step 4: I found one.

If you found a camera, it can be easily disabled simply by putting something in front of it. If it is in the wall, hang a poster over it. If it is in something like a flower pot, put a box in front of it.

Or you could just unplug it, but that would make it very clear that you know they're spying on you.

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piekid6 years ago
im the one who put them in your house. think of it as a game a set up hide and seek maby? be creative! sweet me like.
legionlabs6 years ago
I've heard from attendees of conferences where no photography is permitted, that the host announced they have some method of detecting camera use even if you don't use a flash. I imagine it must be some technique that takes advantage of this effect. Perhaps just a video camera, and a light outside of the visible spectrum.
okto legionlabs6 years ago
Easy to defeat: use film. A mechanical film camera emits no more heat than a pen.
legionlabs okto6 years ago
You're right, although I've certainly seen mechanical film cameras that use some fairly fancy electronics. I suppose lens detection is a better technique after all... although how would it avoid detecting people's eyes? If you've ever accidentally shone a flashlight into a cat's face in the dark, you know what I mean!
in most cases, they watch via infra-red for "hot" electronics... this works well for camcorders in theaters.
Southpole6 years ago
i tried it and ... phook... i found one right in my laptop screen. i wonder who put it there... and how ...
Hahahahahaha! I like it.
wow ill use that alot (you goon)
If you've been staring straight at a camera through a cardboard tube with a flashlight in your hand, i think whoever is spying on you will know that you'r onto them.
Skor4596 years ago
Yes, disabling a camera by cutting it's wires makes it obvious that you know you're being watched. Spinning in circle holding a flashlight and a toilet paper roll helps to confuse them though.
spylock6 years ago
LEDs work better than standard flashlight bulbs do.
Here is some sales blurb for a commercial product which uses the same optical back refraction / reflection properties as this Instructable, to help reveal hidden pinhole surveillance cameras, and perhaps also fibre optic endoscope or fibrescope surveillance probes.

"Hand-held Covert Video Camera Detector

The SpyFinder hidden camera detector/locator is the most reliable and popular technology on the market. Its function is based on the principle of optical augmentation. This refers to the phenomenon where light reflected from a focused optical system, such as a video camera, is reflected along the same path as the incident light. This means that if a hidden camera is illuminated and viewed with the SpyFinder technology, then a strong flickering reflection from the target camera reveals its position to the user. The SpyFinder exploits this phenomenon by using a ring of ultra-bright LEDs arranged around a viewing port.

When a user scans a room looking through the viewing port, a hidden camera appearing in the field of view will brightly reflect the light from the LEDs....

Simply look through the viewing port (see photo) and depress the button to activate the LEDs. Slowly scan areas where hidden cameras are suspected and look for bright reflected spots. Remember, most hidden video cameras use pinhole camera lenses, so the spot you are looking for could be small. If you see a suspected camera, move your vantage point slightly. If the location of the reflection moves as you move, then this is not a camera. If the location of the reflection does not move, then it is highly likely that you have discovered the optics of a hidden camera. For example, consider a wall clock that has a domed plastic cover and a pinhole camera concealed under the numeral six on the clock face. When the SpyFinder is used to scan the clock, a reflection will be noted where the camera is located beneath the six and a reflection will also be noted from the plastic cover. However, if you move your vantage point just a little, you will notice that the location of the false positive reflection point from the plastic cover will move, while the reflection from the camera remains under the numeral six on the clock face."
hcold6 years ago
Just curious, is your name "w1n5t0n" an allusion to the protangonist from 1984?
Maybe he meant winston?
The protagonist from 1984 is named Winston.
prrofreader6 years ago
Good info, but I don't think you mean "pinhole camera". A pinhole camera's optics are just a small hole in an opaque sheet - not detectable by this method. It does sound better than "camera with a very small lens" though, doesn't it?
What do you mean an opaque sheet? The pinhole cameras I have seen all have a lens.... it is a tiny one, but it can be seen as a lens. Unless it is hidden behind a one-way mirror.
ok, I just realiszed what you were referring to. An actual "pinhole camera" in still photography, not a video recording device.
skunkbait6 years ago
Great instructable! I've been in the security industry for quite a while and let me tell you : The cameras are EVERYWHERE!
stone34086 years ago
This idea actually does work. What you are looking for is coaxial lighting. We have all seen photos with red eye in them or the deer int he headlights with thier eyes "glowing". This same principle is used by the military with IR and locating human targets. It does wok and I have used it in the past to evaluate the covert emclosures for cameras.
ac1D6 years ago
with a PINHOLE camera, there is no light that reflect from it. the only way to detect pinhole camera, is if they are wireless.
I wanted to find cameras is hotels that i stay at so i can sew them and or mabye take the camera for my own projects. I also seen This thing that flashes A red LED and i think you look through a red lens and you can see the camera acually light up. Good Instructable but i dont think its really effective.
killbox6 years ago
i could see this working for any lens based camera, but not a true pinhole. camera.
kaimanoid6 years ago
Hidden cameras are more common than we think. Found in cheap motels' rooms, to expensive casinos in Vegas,and everywhere in between; Including elevators and nightclubs' restrooms... When hitting on a (lensless) panel camera, the light-beam doesn't bounce back, but it changes its angle of incidence; It is a subtle change, but it can be detected by the keen eye of an experienced observer... Hidden cameras are a reality, and it's a good idea to start paying more attention to our surroundings. keep it up! -Regards-
Spokehedz6 years ago
Very nice. I'm getting in before the nutters, and saying that keep posting these instructables no matter what.
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